Today we read three short but remarkable chapters in 2 Corinthians. Titus has reported to Paul that spiritual life and attitudes were improving in Corinth. Paul writes, “God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus … as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoice still more. For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it … I rejoice … because you were grieved into repenting” (7:6-8).

The path to joy is sometimes difficult. To a greater or lesser extent it is the experience of every believer who sets out to walk in the footsteps of Christ. It is said that we learn from our mistakes, but that is only true when we see that we have strayed from the narrow way. Sometimes God brings about drastic correction, such as Jehu’s destruction of Ahab’s house and the Baal worshippers as we read today in 2 Kings 10. But even this failed to bring Israel to serve God correctly. Cutting out what is bad is only half the work. Repentance is a tragedy when it does not lead to a new start.

Note the start of 1 Corinthians 7 – “since we have these promises …”. Which promises? Those set out in the final verses of chapter 6: “… we are the temple of the living God, as God has said. ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them … then I will welcome you and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty’” (verses 16-18). These verses, quoted from Leviticus 26:12 and Isaiah 52:1, demonstrate that all 66 books of the Bible are one unit.

Then comes the statement, “Since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (7:1). What a wonderful idea. Let us be changed people, learning from our mistakes and bringing holiness to completion.